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Verizon to sell Tumblr to WordPress owner

August 13, 2019 Off By

Site’s value lives up to name.

Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday it would sell its blogging website Tumblr to Automattic Inc, the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress.

The company did not disclose the terms of the deal, however, US news site Axios has reported the social media site may have sold for less than US$10 million.

Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for more than US$1 billion in 2013 and Verizon acquired it as part of its deal for Yahoo in 2015.

Verizon Media Group, formerly called Oath, is the digital media umbrella that owns more than 50 brands, including HuffPost, TechCrunch and Tumblr.

Tumblr’s popularity, and presumably value, took a significant hit at the end of last year as it responded to a push to limit child exploitation material on the site by deploying an artificial intelligence-powered filter to remove any and all sexually explicit material.

A large portion of the site’s user-base identified as young and gender- and sexually-diverse, who used the platform to build a sense of community and explore their interests. Many claimed the AI ban on all explicit material, rather than just exploitative material, reduced their capacity to build a community.

The filter hasn’t proved successful in taking down all material, however, the resulting loss of traffic had Verizon looking to offload the platform in May, the Wall Street Journal reported. At the time, Pornhub expressed public interest in acquiring the site and removing the filter.